Cover image for Before & after : living and eating well after weight loss surgery
Before & after : living and eating well after weight loss surgery
Leach, Susan Maria.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, [2004]

Physical Description:
x, 258 pages ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RD540.5 .L43 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



At 278 pounds, Susan Maria Leach couldn't fit into a roller coaster seat, couldn't tie a bathrobe around herself, couldn't even ride with her husband on the back of his Harley. Enough was enough. Susan underwent gastric bypass weight loss surgery. Now Susan weighs in at a mere 135 pounds. Her book, Before & After, is the story of her incredible journey from being too big to enjoy her life, to being able to truly enjoy life to its fullest.

Now Susan can fit into that roller coaster seat, completely tie that robe, and ride on the back of her husband's Harley.

More than one hundred thousand people had weight loss surgery in 2003, and as those pounds continue to drop, the number of people opting for the surgery continues to rise.

Part memoir and part cookbook, Before & After includes a foreword by Susan's surgeon, comments from a nutritionist, and a section on frequently asked questions. It is an intimate account of Susan's own transformation, as well as a universal guide for those who have undergone or are considering the procedure.

After her own success, Susan participated in support groups for weight loss surgery patients. There, she discovered that people had as many questions about life after surgery as they had about the operation itself. Before & After answers those questions and many more. An accomplished home cook and longtime culinary enthusiast, Susan quickly became known as the "lady with the recipes."

Determined not to give up good food and a flexible lifestyle, Susan worked hard to develop recipes that meet her nutritional requirements, yet are delicious and satisfying for her, her family, and her guests. The 100 recipes -- which include everything from Roasted Salmon with Mango Salsa and Italian Meatballs to Belgian Chocolate Cheesecake and Lemon Meringue Pie -- make about four servings, but each comes with a measured serving for WLS people along with a calorie/carb/fat/protein count. Susan has recipes for every step of the way, from tastes-like-the-real-thing milk shakes for those first post-op days to an entire Thanksgiving menu.

Before & After is a journal of Susan's own inspirational story, where she shares her ups and downs, her tips and techniques, but mostly it's a book about hope for anyone who has a serious weight problem.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Weighing 278 pounds and unable to tie her bathrobe closed, in June 2001, Leach had her stomach reduced to the size of an egg. But her battle with food didn't end there. Like all those who undergo weight-loss surgery, Leach must diligently watch her food intake; eating more than a few bites of a dish or ingesting too much sugar will result in "dumping," a bodily reaction as unpleasant as it sounds (it involves food emptying from the stomach too quickly). Leach's journal of her post-operative year (which followed her loss of 143 pounds) shows that she remains just as obsessed with food as she was before surgery. Leach isn't exceptionally self-reflective and doesn't analyze what readers might find most helpful: how her relationship with her husband has changed. He grows jealous of her girls'-nights-out and tries to force her into eating key lime pie, even though it will make her sick. Later, in a q&a section, Leach matter-of-factly answers such inquiries about weight-loss surgery as "Does insurance cover it?" and "How fast should one lose weight?" In the book's final third, Leach provides more than 100 tasty (and dump-proof) recipes for protein shakes, main dishes and holiday meals. Many of the recipes can be found in other low-fat cookbooks, but Leach's recipes for desserts are unique (e.g., Lemon-Almond Sponge Cake). Although her journal may paint an overly rosy picture of post-weight-loss surgery life, those who have undergone or are considering such surgery may find it helpful. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Before & After Living & Eating Well After Weight Loss Surgery Chapter One The Countdown To June 11 Begins! May 26, 2001 I feel so weepy and emotional. I went to breakfast this morning with my husband, my father, and his wife, and I sat there staring at my plateful of scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, sausage, and bagel slathered with cream cheese; it made me feel so terrible about myself, I wanted to cry. I couldn't eat it. Lately, I analyze what is on my plate at every meal and think, "I will never eat this again." It is a very difficult feeling to deal with. Then five minutes later, I get angry with myself and think, "You have eaten enough in your life, get over it!" I regroup my thoughts and it is more like "I will never eat this much for one meal or on one plate again!" June 5, 2001 My best friend, Ronni, and I checked out the surgical floor at Florida Medical Center. The fifth-floor bariatric suites appeared comfortable and clean. It made me feel so much better about the surgery looming before me. Everyone I have come in contact with at this hospital has been exceptional. When they perform a diagnostic test, the technicians are very professional and know what they are doing, and there is no confusion. You can feel so exposed and vulnerable in this setting, but the staff has given me even more confidence in my choice. The nurses took the time to talk to me and showed us around the floor, even taking us into one of the specially-equipped bariatric rooms. I was surprised to see that this hospital has large leather recliners, and the beds have a steel frame canopy with a hanging bar you can use to help move yourself. I will be in a private room. Ronni will stay with me the first couple of nights since my husband can be pretty useless in medical situations, and I mean that in a loving way. I adore my husband, but after I had throat surgery two years ago, it took him entirely too long to figure out that my frantic hand gestures meant I desperately needed some water. I have been comparing notes with people on the weight loss surgery message boards and some of their hospitals and surgeons don't have scales capable of weighing them, or compression stockings to fit their large legs, or even hospital gowns for larger patients. I wonder why someone would choose a surgeon or hospital that didn't make special accommodations for the comfort and safety of larger patients. More importantly, I wonder why a bariatric surgeon specializing in this procedure would not make sure that his or her hospital provided these items for their patients. I only have a few days left to eat "big food" so tonight we are going out for pizza. Tomorrow, Ruth's Chris Steak House is on the calendar so that I can enjoy a final giant steak. I am 39 years old and I figure that I have eaten enough. I will be able to eat again, albeit in very small portions, but I will enjoy a few more days of shameless gluttony. I am scared, but on most days I can't wait to get rolling. June 8, 2001 I am looking forward to being on the "losing" side of this surgery. Tonight, my husband went solo to a party we were invited to. The invitation touts that there will be a band with dancing, cocktails, and incredible food. I just didn't want to go. I am the biggest that I have ever been in my life, so of course my first thoughts were of my closet full of clothes too tight to wear. My newest size 26/28 Lane Bryant jeans are so tight that if that button on the waistband popped, the ricocheting metal could injure an innocent bystander. I can barely breathe while sitting down in them. My black knit twin set, the only acceptable item in my closet for a casual party, will make my makeup run in ten minutes flat in the humid June night air. Everyone will be running around in little tops and mini skirts and I would be the red-faced fat girl in the hot sweater and jeans. The clincher that cemented my decision to stay home was that it is a yacht christening party and I just know I would have been in an uncomfortable situation getting on and off the boat. I have already had a couple of embarrassing situations on friends' boats! Even when you can get on the boat, you have to worry about the tide changing. On one occasion a fairly easy two-foot jump down to the boat later became an impossible four-foot leap back up to the dock. I immediately recognized the problem at hand and watched in terror while everyone else seemed to fly effortlessly up to the dock aided by the helping hands of the uniformed boat valets. I tried to think of a reason to stay on the boat, but there was no way out. When my husband and a friend's husband realized that I was going to have difficulty getting up to the dock, they began to formulate a plan to help me. Then more of our friends became aware that there was a problem and got back on the boat to help. I found myself the sudden focus of attention while our well-meaning friends pulled and pushed me upward. As my feet landed on the dock, I tried to act nonchalant about whose hands had been on my butt, giving me that final boost. I suffered not only from embarrassment, but also large bruises on my arms and legs from the incident. This was supposed to be a fun end to a day of boating, but I remember it for the humiliation instead of the event we were celebrating. Tonight, our dear friends giving the party will wonder where I am ... Before & After Living & Eating Well After Weight Loss Surgery . Copyright © by Susan Leach. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Before and After: Living and Eating Well after Weight Loss Surgery by Susan Maria Leach All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.